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CRM VI: The Philosophy

(May 01, 2002) - More than a technology, CRM is a strategy to strengthen and deepen relationships with customers. The core applications appear to fail in organizations that simply want a button to push. Companies that embrace the underlying philosophy can achieve results that are beyond traditional ROI calculations. In other words, the implementation is far more important than the vendor's product.

Applying the tools to the management of relationships with past, present and future employees requires a leap beyond the capacities of most current vendors. Still caught in the monolithic models of the Internet as a substitute for broadcasting technologies, they rarely differentiate among the basic categories of potential employee let alone provide for their care and feeding. Customer organizations are not without sin. Anyone with more than a couple of years experience will have lived through one or more "flavor of the month" programs designed to persuade workers to treat each other "like customers".

Employees, whether past, present or future are customers. They are not "like customers". This is not a game of pretend where you role play as if the target were a customer. They are customers who make regular investments in the company and increasingly want to know, in detail, what the return is on that investment. Introducing a CRM system that manages relationships, bringing delight and deeper understanding on both sides of the equation must begin with a real commitment to this point of view. It will take time and patience to make it a fundamental value of the organization. 

It's pretty clear, at this point, that different technical tools are required to manage each of the subgroups of employees (past present and future). The areas of interest and possibilities for relationship development vary significantly. Motivations for involvement with your organization also vary widely. Useful tools are being developed in each area though no vendor appears to offer more than one.

The following table is a preliminary attempt to articulate the gross differences between the groups. Deep relationships require that you know various things about each of the individuals in the group. Acquiring the raw data, through relationships and research, is a task that varies in difficulty and technical complexity for each group. The table underscores the relative differences between the groups and the reasons behind thinking that they'll each require separate systems and infrastructure

Difficulty Of Information Acquisition By Employee Class

Category Who They Are What They Do Interests Values  Experience Qualifications Network
Past Easy Hard Hard Hard  Moderate Moderate Easy
Present Easy Easy Easy  Easy  Easy Easy Easy
Future Hard Easy Hard Hard  Hard  Hard Hard

You could also build a matrix of workforce requirements that is used to segment the three groups of employees into occupational categories and quantities of need. We think that the first step is building the organizational commitment to treat employees as customers. Then, a really detailed strategy for developing a reliable supply ought to be a straightforward question.

 -John Sumser

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